This Interview with the Vampire review contains spoilers.
Interview with the Vampire Episode 6
Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire’s season 1 episode 6 “Like Angels Put in Hell by God,” is somewhat of a relief after “The Ruthless Pursuit of Blood with All a Child’s Demanding.” The insane conclusion left things so far up in the air, the residual suspense has been unyielding. It appears Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid) may believe he went too far. He may not. The supreme vampire in the household says a lot of things, all of them with sincerity. While the audience might take things at face value, Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), and Claudia (Bailey Bass) have no faith at all, much like the title of the installment.
“Like Angels Put in Hell by God” is filled with information, most of it new, some of it ancient. But can anyone believe it? The journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian), who is interviewing Louis, is not quite the stand-in for the audience his job suggests. He is resistant and judgmental, speaking often for loyalists to the book. The unifying factor is surprise, which is gripping and comes from several directions in a project like this. Even those who know the book routinely recalculate where we are in the story, making this a new renewed experience. We are given times and dates, take into account how Louis and Lestat went underground for several years, and it adds up to more fun anticipating how the arc will hit.
One of the first things to hit is the return of a sense of humor. The high point being any discourse between Molloy and Louis’ non-attending physician. As things went into interior darkness in the last episode, the drama overtook any levity some repartee could throw into the situation. Lestat’s wit is caustic, occasionally cutting, and usually cruel, but the first punch line comes nonverbally from Louis. Claudia gets to revel in the set up. The constantly-changing dynamic of the household is the sum of its self-commentary. Claudia may use double-edged banter to distract Lestat during chess, but he can castle her to get a rise out of Louis without even sacrificing a knight. Though he may put the bite on any passing bishop before any night is over.
Lestat brags about playing three simultaneous chess matches against masters, including a world-class champion at the game. The vampire never mentions how many he won at the event. For the most part, Claudia and Louis are in a unified power play, but when she and Lestat come at Louis for his non-human diet, everything is thrown in doubt. Claudia’s distrust, however, appears to be absolute. If the vampires can’t trust their maker to lift more than a finger for their concerns, why should they believe what he says about flying?
The cloud gift, as it is called, along with Lestat’s origin story, the loss of his first lover Nicolas, and all the other tidbits of truth disseminated, are all suspect, which adds to the emotional suspense. The more we know about Lestat, the less we understand, while the subterfuge is revelatory to the emerging character. Reid’s approach to keeping things thinly veiled is unique, extremely effective, and versatile. He never attacks unless provoked, but he provokes with every humble retreat. It is fun to watch Lestat play against himself, while he is simultaneously playing others. But when he loses, Reid lets everything he’s been bottling up erupt into masterful explosions.
This episode marks the series’ first mention of the word “brat” in regards to Lestat. He will ultimately become the “Brat Prince,” so hearing it is cause for minor celebration. It is uttered by Louis, who approaches Lestat with cautious abandon. Anderson indulges in minor explosions as Louis, but he excels in implosion. Louis is a slightly more active part, mainly because of the interactions with mortals, which makes his inward retreats that much more pronounced. All of a sudden, it seems, there’s nobody home. When Anderson checks out, he leaves a completely abandoned space behind.
We realize this before he even brings up the word dissociation, so when it comes up in conversation the emptiness gets very crowded because nothing is resolved. Claudia is all about resolution, and Bass is relentless. She doesn’t give Claudia a moment’s rest. She’s got places to go even Louis can’t pronounce, and is committed to acting on her own will. That makes it more excruciating when it is stripped from her.
The one time Lestat executes a frontal assault during the episode, his forward march is majestic. A particularly gruesome scene skips the carnage and goes right for the jugular, punching it like a ticket on a cross-country train. It is another defining moment for Reid’s Lestat, letting him use all his voices, in the least subtle mix of comedy and terror the series has offered so far. The sequence would be devastating if it wasn’t so funny, and hysterical if it weren’t so scary. It is a truly fun scene for horror fans.
The makeup effects are exquisitely rendered. The episode opens in the aftermath of the great fall the dark angel Louis took, and the wounds are very tender. The gore effects are uniformly effective, and action sequences with almost-invisible players also make a big bang, but the subtlety of the scarring, and the details of the gashes are works of tortured art.
From chasing small farm animals around the opulent apartment to tossing cards into a top-hat, Louis’ rehabilitation is astutely captured. The wounds to the relationship are not so easily mended. This is mainly because Lestat always seems to find a way to pull off the scab, hooked on the blood seeping just below the bandage. The first true breakthrough ends with a broken record, the crack resonates as a truly lost gem, and the hits keep on coming.
In last week’s episode, Molloy slapped Louis for intruding on his inner workings. The vampire offers to bite back in a very surprising exchange which ends in no surprise at all. The interviewer and his subject have both come a long way since their initial sessions, and a lot got lost in the footnotes. The conclusion, however, is a jarring reminder to always pay your bar tabs.
In what the vampires take as a running joke, locals leave messages in front of their household in the form of religious gris gris bags protected by a salt circle. The warning notes reading “Please return to the dark place you came from” should make the vampires feel house proud. Even in a place like New Orleans, where there is great competition, their home is still the spookiest in the quarter. “Like Angels Put in Hell by God” is not a particularly frightening episode. It follows the horrors of the family dynamic, and muted by remorse and amends. But even with only one truly genre-defining sequence, it’s still the scariest place on television.
Interview with the Vampire airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET on AMC and AMC+.